Andreas' History of the State of Nebraska

Adams County
Produced by
Diane Dietl and Connie Snyder.


Adams County | Early Settlement | Indian Troubles | Organization
Criminal | First Things | Railroads


Manufactures | County Seat Removals | County Poor Farm
Grasshoppers | Agricultural Society | Farmer's Alliance
Public Schools | Towns

Hastings:  Banks | Manufactures | The Press

Hastings (cont.):   Societies | Religious | Liberal Hall | Schools
Fire Department | Telephone Exchange

 5 ~ 8:

Biographical Sketches:


Juniata:  Banks | Flouring Mill | Societies | Religious
The Press | Schools

PART 10:
Juniata:  Biographical Sketches
PART 11:
Ayr:  Biographical Sketches
PART 12:

Kenesaw:  First Things | Religious | Educational | The Press
Biographical Sketches
Hansen:   Biographical Sketches
Other Towns

List of Illustrations in Adams County Chapter

Part 11


   This village is situated about twelve miles south of Hastings, and near the center of the county. It is favorably located in the valley of the Little Blue River, which affords water-power facilities, and along its banks range low bluffs and ridges, which, with the natural growth of timber hedging it in, renders the scenery much more beautiful than that of other places on the unbroken monotony of the prairie.

   The Burlington & Missouri River Railroad passes through the place, bringing to it the advantages of convenient shipment of produce, stock, etc. By means of these facilities, Ayr has become quite considerable in the exportation of grain, principally wheat, for the production of which the fertile lands lying just out from the river bluffs are well adapted.

   The village was laid out in September, 1878, by the South Platte Town Site Company, and named after Dr. Ayr, of Iowa, one of the Directors of the railroad. The site lies upon the junction of four sections, and is formed from a part taken from each. The land at the time was the property of private parties, and a part of it had previously been obtained from the railroad company, having been included in the land grant. Those owning the land were John Radcliffe, who owned Section 33 of the railroad land, and east of this lay a quarter-section owned by Ayers Goble, and south of Radcliffe lay a quarter-section, the property of A. C. Moore, while south of Goble's land and west of Moore's joins the quarters owned by Prof. Meyers.

   It was after the building of the railroad in 1878 that the town started, and it was in consideration that the parties owning the land were to donate every other lot, or half of the town site, to the company, providing they locate a station at that point.

   O. D. Barras built the first house on the village site--a small frame dwelling--in October, 1878. The next improvement was the erection in November of the same year of a large two-story frame hotel, by R. C. Fleming. The same fall, T. C. Fleming and A. L. West put a storeroom and opened a business house with a general stock of merchandise. Directly following, R. C. Gregg also built a storehouse and opened the first drug store, which he afterward sold to Koehler & Phar. Phar, having since bought the interest of his partner, is now in absolute control of the business. Late in the fall of 1878, John Richards opened a grocery store, McMillan & Hull a general store, and M. S. & T. J. Edgington started a business, dealing in hardware.

   In the summer of 1879, Henry Gund & Co. built a large grain elevator, and John Robinson opened a livery barn.

   In 1878, A. Peck and Henry Howe put up a building, which they occupied with a saloon, but the business has since closed up, and the room in which tares were sown broadcast is now used in the scattering of precious gems of education and thought among the youth of the village and vicinity, being occupied by a select school.

   In the fall of 1879, Isaac Vanderwart built a shop, in which he carried on business as a blacksmith, and the same season the Commercial Hotel was built by A. J. Pate, and also Rev. J. Fleming put up a building known as Church Hall, to be used for religious purposes, in the erection of which he employed his own capital.

   The educational facilities of Ayr are in common with those of the country district, and the school is kept in a building situated about half a mile north of town. The first school was taught in the winter of 1878-79, by John Gainor, a son of the Emerald Isle. Gainor was generally considered an excellent teacher, having splendid scholarly attainments, and, with that amusing manner so characteristic of his race, he won the good will and admiration of all his pupils, his only crime being an excessive love for the intoxicating bowl. He was employed by the School Board to teach a second term, but at the close of the school, in the spring of 1879, he "went on a big spree," lasting several days. Chagrined and mortified with his conduct, he secretly left the place, and has not since returned.

   A post office was established at Ayr in I 879. Previous to this, it was kept at a point called Gilson, about two miles north of the town site. E. H. Scott was Postmaster, and, through his efforts and influence, the office was changed from Gilson and removed to Ayr. Scott held the position of Postmaster up to the spring of 1881, and was succeeded in office by James Bovard. The office has since largely increased in importance, and is now a money order office.

   The first religious services were held by the Rev. J. Fleming, a Presbyterian missionary laboring under the auspices of that denomination. A congregation was organized in the winter of 1878-79, with a membership of thirty. The meetings were held in Church Hall, a structure erected by Mr. Fleming at his own expense, designed especially for such purposes.

   In the spring of 1879, a Methodist congregation was also organized, under the direction of Elder Lemons, then Presiding Elder of the district. The Rev. John Holland was their first regular pastor, who remained with the congregation one year, and since that time they have been without a regular minister. At present, the village is devoid, practically, of the much-needed teachings of Gospel precepts.

   Dr. S. A. Bookwalter was the first practicing physician to locate in the village, having made his advent in the summer of 1879.

   A lumber and coal yard was started in 1879, by William Laughlin and Cyrus McMillan.

   In 1880, Mortimer Kress and W. S. Moot moved a large two-story building from Millington to Ayr. The first story is used as a storeroom and the upper floor is fitted for a town hall.

   The first and only deaths that have occurred in the place were those of Henry Harm's twin infants, in October, 1881.

   The first child born was Harvey Fleming, son of T. C. and Esther J. Fleming.

   Notwithstanding the auspicious location of the village, its growth, although promising at first, has of late turned backward, and tends rapidly to decline.

   The growth of the place was such that, in 1880, it had a population of 150, but since then it has gradually fallen off, until at the present date it numbers little more than one hundred, and indications point to still further decline.

   The Press.--But a single attempt has been made at journalism in the village of Ayr. A paper called the Ayr Times was established in January, 1882, the first issue of which was made on the 14th of that month. In size, the sheet is a six-column quarto, is Republican in politics, and has a regular issue of 360 copies. The paper is edited and published by Watkins Bros., the firm being composed of three brothers--C. L, G. M. and F. A. Watkins. The journal is of patent inside. Besides the editorial work, the firm do considerable job work.


   SAMUEL A. BOOKWALTER, physician and surgeon, was born in Lancaster City, in 1851, removing to Illinois some years later. He studied medicine under Dr. McMann, of Gardner, Grundy County, for five years, and during 1869 and 1870 took a course of lectures at Cleveland Medical College, after which he attended Louisville Medical College, Kentucky, graduating in February, 1873. Subsequently practiced at his profession for five years at Melvin, Ford County, Ill. The Doctor then entered the contract service of the United States Army, at Washington, D. C., as Assistant Surgeon, and held the position for six months. He came to Nebraska in May, 1879, and practiced at Juniata until February, 1880, when he came to Ayr, and at once began the practice of medicine here.

   JAMES E. BOVARD, Postmaster and Notary Public, was born in Philadelphia, Penn., in 1850, and six years later removed with his parents to Rock Island County, Ill. He assisted his parents in farming for some years, after which he was for several years employed as clerk in the mercantile business. He came to Nebraska in March, 1871, locating in Ayr, Adams County, homesteading 160 acres on which he resided, and was generally employed in carpenter work. In 1874, he returned to Rock Island County, Ill., and was employed for two years in the post office at Port Barnes. Returning to Ayr in 1876, he farmed for three years. Mr. Bovard was appointed Postmaster in the spring of 1881, and Notary Public in March of that year. He was Treasurer of the District School Board during 1878, 1879 and 1880.

   ELI M. BURTON, farmer and stock-raiser, was born in Lawrence County, Ind., in 1841, and resided with his parents on a farm until he enlisted, in August, 1862, in the Sixty-seventh Indiana Infantry, at which time he was appointed Sergeant of Company H. He served three years, after which he returned to his home in Indiana and followed farming. He came to Nebraska in October, 1874, and resided in Burt County for a few months, during which time he was engaged in various capacities. In March, 1875, he homesteaded eighty acres of land in Ayr Precinct, Adams County, and resided on the same until October, 1881. when he moved to his present residence in same precinct, which he rents. He now farms, in all, 240 acres of land, and is also engaged in breeding and raising P land-China hogs. Mr. Burton was married in Clay County, Ill., in March, 1867, to Susan M. Monroe, a native of Illinois. They have seven children--Caswell, Homer, Ida, Nellie, Edwin, George W. and Annie.

   DYER BROTHERS, proprietors of Dyers' Mills. The firm is composed of A. True Dyer and Elbridge G. Dyer. They built their present mills at a cost of $10,000, in 1875, and have gradually increased their trade until they now do a business of some $60,000 to $70,000 per annum. A. True Dyer was born in Raymond, Me., in 1843. He learned the tinner trade, and was employed at it in the State of Maine for some fourteen years. He came to Nebraska in June, 1872, homesteading eighty acres in Denver Precinct, Adams County, and resided on the same until he engaged in milling business in 1875. Elbridge G. Dyer, of this firm, was born in Raymond, Me., in 1848. When quite young, he removed with his parents to Bowdoin, Sagadahoc Co., Me., residing on the farm with his parents until he enlisted, in January, 1865, in the Fifteenth Maine Infantry. He served for a year. Shortly afterward he was employed in a woolen factory at Lisbon Falls, Me., having charge of a hydraulic press for two years. Subsequently he learned the trade of tailor, and was employed at it for two years. Mr. Dyer came to Nebraska in June, 1872, homesteaded 160 acres in Denver Precinct, Adams County, and farmed until he engaged in the present business.

   GORDON H. EDGERTON, farmer and stock-raiser, P. O. Hastings, was born in Essex County, N. Y., May 10, 1842. At four years of age, removed with his parents to Knox County, Ill., and resided on a farm until he enlisted, in January, 1865, in the One Hundred and Twelfth Illinois Infantry. Served until mustered out in the following June. He then went to Colorado, where he was employed in mining, etc. In 1867, he went to Omaha, Neb., and was for two years employed as a teamster following the construction of the Union Pacific Railroad, afterward teaming in Boonesboro, Iowa; Emporia, Kan., and other places for several years. In April, 1871, he returned to Nebraska and homesteaded 160 acres of land in Little Blue Precinct, on which he since resided. He now owns 320 acres, and in connection with his farming pursuits is largely engaged in breeding Durham cattle and Poland-China hogs. Mr. Edgerton has been a member of the District School Board since 1875, and was elected a Commissioner of Adams County, for a term of three years, in the fall of 1881. He was married at his present residence in March, 1876, to Elva Bird, a native of Iowa. They have two children--Arthur and Goldie.

   EDGINGTON BROS., dealers in hardware and furniture. The firm is composed of Thomas J. and Marion S. Edgington. They established this business here in November, 1879; carry a nice stock of $1,200; do an annual business of some $3,000, and have good prospects for increasing their trade. Thomas J. Edgington, the resident partner, was born in Richland County, Ohio, in 1840. At the age of five years, removed to Ogle County, Ill., residing with his father on the farm for ten years, afterward in Delaware County, Iowa. Here he learned the trade of printer and followed it until 1862, when he enlisted in the Ninth Iowa Infantry, and six months later was discharged on account of ill health. He, however, re-enlisted in 1864 in the Thirty-fourth Iowa Infantry, serving one hundred days. Mr. Edgington was then employed as clerk in the mercantile business at Morseville, Jo Daviess County, and Lena, Stephenson County, Ill., until he came to Nebraska in September, 1878. Locating in Nelson, Nuckolls County, at once engaged in the hardware business in company with his brother, Marion S., who is practicing law at Edgar, Neb. In November, they moved their stock to this point. Mr. Edgington was married in Morseville, Ill., in 1865, to Maria Le Barron, a native of Illinois. They have two children--Edith N. and Essie D.

   MELVILLE B. FOOTE, farmer and stock-raiser, P. O. Ayr, was born in Fulton County, N. Y., in 1840. Learned the trade of carpenter at Jonesville, Saratoga County, N. Y., serving as an apprentice some two years, and was engaged in business as a contractor and builder at Saratoga Springs, N. Y., for about a year. August 6, 1862, he enlisted in the One Hundred and Fifteenth New York Infantry; was appointed Sergeant of Company E, and served three years. Returning to Northville, N. Y., was for a year employed as a foreman in the cabinet factory. Mr. F. came to Nebraska in March, 1867, locating in Otoe County; was for a year employed as a carpenter, and for four years in farming and contracting. He removed to Ayr Precinct on May 23, 1872, having homesteaded 160 acres on which he has since resided. In connection with his farming and stock-raising pursuits, Mr. F. is also engaged in carrying on a dairy, and in growing fruit, having an orchard of three acres. He was a Director of the district school for some seven years, and was appointed Road Supervisor for the year 1882. Mr. Foote was married at Edinburg, Saratoga County, N. Y., June 17, 1866, to Betsy M. Trowbridge, a native of Fulton County, Ohio. They have four children--Hattie B., Charles W., Eugene and one infant daughter.

   ALBERT N. HALL, farmer and stock-raiser, was born in Ontario May 6, 1835, removing with his parents to Kane County, Ill., where he resided for sixteen years, after which he returned to Ontario, and was for a few months engaged as a traveling salesman in the marble business. He came to Nebraska in 1858, located near Nebraska City, where he resided for about a year, after which he returned to Kane County, Ill., and farmed there until he enlisted, September 10, 1861, in the Fifty-second Illinois Infantry. He was wounded by rifle ball at the battle of Corinth October 3, 1862, and was transferred to the Fifth Veteran Reserve Corp, in July, 1863, in which he served until mustered out in November, 1864, after which he farmed in Kane County. Mr. Hall returned to Nebraska in 1870, and was engaged in farming in the neighborhood of Nebraska City for about four years. He homesteaded 160 acres in Ayr Precinct, Adams County, Neb., March 26, 1873, and moved on to the same in June following, since which time he has devoted himself to farming and stock-raising in this locality. He was elected President to Adams County Agricultural Society in 1878, re-elected in 1879, and Vice President in 1881; was member of State Board of Agriculture during 1878 and 1879, and elected Vice President of District Agricultural Society in the fall of 1881, and Justice of the Peace in 1878, and re-elected in 1879. Mr. H. was married at Nebraska City in 1858, to Sarah Adelia Foote, a native of New York. They have three children living--Winfield S., Hervey N., Nettie S. and Lattie A., who died April 23, 1876.

   CHRISTIAN KOEHLER, of Henry Gund & Co., dealers in grain, etc., was born in Galena, Ill., in 1856. At eighteen years of age, he removed to Freeport, Ill., and was employed as clerk in the lumber business for a year, after which he went to Marcus, Iowa, where he was for three years employed as book-keeper in the grain and coal business. He came to Ayr, Neb., in July, 1879, and entered the employ of Henry Gund, dealer in grain, as manager, and in the summer of 1880 purchased an interest in the concern, and the business is now conducted under style of H. Gund & Co., Mr. K. being the junior partner. In August, 1880, he also, in company with Dr. W. W. Phar, purchased the drug business of R. C. Greig at this place, and remained in partnership with him in that business until he sold out his interest to the Doctor in January, 1882. Henry Gund & Co. have elevators here and at Blue Hill, Neb., both being in charge of Mr. K. Their elevator at this point has a capacity of 15,000 bushels, and they ship some 60,000 bushels of grain during the season, the capacity of elevator at Blue Hill is 10,000 bushels, and they ship from that point about 40,000 bushels. The firm also ship considerable live stock. Henry Gund, the senior member of the firm, is engaged in banking and grain business at Wilbur, Saline County, Neb.

   W. W. PHAR, physician and surgeon, and dealer in drugs, etc., was born in Booneville, Ind., in 1854. Was educated at Whittier College, Salem, Henry County, Iowa, then at Keokuk Medical School, graduating there in 1878. Previous to this he practiced medicine with Dr. Farr, of Salem, for four years. After his graduation, practiced his profession at Primrose, Iowa, for about a year. He came to Ayr, Neb., in August, 1879, and at once began practicing medicine. In August, 1880, in company with C. Koehler, purchased the drug business of R. C. Greig, and in January, 1882, Dr. Phar bought his partner's interest in the concern, and now devotes his time principally to the drug business. He carries a nice stock of about $1,000, and does an annual business of $3,000 to $4,000.

   JAMES RITCHESON, farmer and stock-raiser, P. O. Hastings, was born in Holmes County, Ohio, in 1837, and resided there on a farm until twenty-two years of age, when he went to Henry County, Iowa, and farmed there until he enlisted in September, 1861, in the Fourth Iowa Infantry, serving three years and ten months, after which he returned to Henry County and conducted a farm of seventy-five acres for some nine years. He came to Nebraska February 3, 1874, homesteading 160 acres in Little Blue Precinct, on which he has since resided. In connection with his farming pursuits, is quite extensively engaged in breeding horses, cattle and hogs. He has been Treasurer of the District School since April, 1876. Mr. R. was married in Henry County, Iowa, April 3, 1864, to Mary A. Olinger, a native of Iowa. They have nine children--George W., Samuel L., Rosetta , Viola, Mary B., Martha, Frank, Leon and Guy.

   OLIVER C. ROGERS, farmer and stock-raiser, was born in Litchfield County, Conn., in 1838, removing to the State of New York when very young, and some years later to Winnebago County, Ill., where he followed farming as an occupation until he enlisted, in July, 1861, in the Northwestern Rifle Corps, which was afterward changed into the Forty-fourth Illinois Infantry. He served four years and four months, and during the period received several slight wounds. After the war, Mr. R. returned to Winnebago County and engaged in farming. He came to Nebraska in the spring of 1871, homesteading, in Gilson, Ayr Precinct, 160 acres of land, and resided on the same for two years. In 1873, he removed to his present farm in the same precinct. He owns 320 acres of land, and, in connection with his farming pursuits, is engaged in breeding Durham and Jersey cattle and Poland-China hogs. He has been engaged in farming for the past twenty-four years.

   JACOB S. WAY, farmer and stock-raiser, P .O. Hastings, was born in Lancaster County, Penn., in 1842. At nine years of age, removed, with his parents, to Knox County, Ohio; resided there on a farm till twenty-two years of age; afterward in Illinois and Iowa for two years; then farmed in Scotland County, Mo., for seven years. He came to Nebraska in the fall of 1872, homesteaded eighty acres in Ayr Precinct, and has since bought two eighties more, making 240 acres in all. He has resided on this farm since; besides farming and stock-raising, is quite extensively engaged in fruit growing, has 150 peach trees and 200 apple trees, besides numerous other varieties of fruit. Mr. Way was married, in Van Buren County, Iowa, in 1865, to Rachel Logsdon, a native of Ohio. They have eight children--John, William, George W., Mary A., Eva L., Charles H., Ida B. and Harvey.

   M. WEINBERG & CO., dealers in general merchandise. This firm is composed of M. Weinberg and S. Mandelbaum. They established this business August 20, 1881, and carry a stock of $5,000 to $6,000. They have also a branch house at Blue Hill, Neb., their main house being in Chicago, Ill. J. K. Moore, their agent at this place, was born in St. Joseph County, Mich., in 1855, removing to Streator, Ill., with his parents, when quite young. He was in the employ of M. Stiefel & Co., clothing dealers of that place, for over seven years. Mr. Moore came to Nebraska in March, 1878, and was employed by Messrs. M. Weinberg & Co. at Hastings until he came to Ayr to take charge of this business. He was married at Hastings, March 29, 1880, to Mary G. Smith, a native of Missouri.

   A. L. WEST, farmer and stock-raiser, P. O. Ayr, was born in Gilmore County, Va., in 1852. At two years of age, removed, with his parents, to Sullivan County, Mo., and came with them to Nebraska in July, 1871. His parents located in Ayr Precinct, and he assisted his father in farming for some seven years. In December, he engaged in general merchandise business at the village of Ayr, in company with T. C. Fleming. This firm dissolved in August, 1879, and Mr. W. conducted the business alone until he sold out, in October, 1880. He then conducted a farm in the precinct of Little Blue for six months, after which he purchased his father's farm in Ayr Precinct, and has resided there since. He is the owner of 825 acres of land, 600 of which are under cultivation, and is also largely engaged in breeding horses and cattle and hogs. He was married at Ayr, Neb., July 27, 1879, and has one daughter--Edna.

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